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Mazda’s new tag line promises that if you "get in," you will "be moved." Catchy, yes, and if the new MPV is any indication of what’s coming from the fiscally rejuvenated company, pretty accurate as well.
Over the past five years, Mazda’s been through financial mood swings on a Trump scale. Now effectively controlled by Ford and the beneficiary of a blue-oval financial makeover, Mazda is beginning to show signs of life. This year, Mazda expects to have its best sales year ever and plans to make a good-sized dent in the 1.2 million-strong minivan market with its 2000 MPV, on sale since September.
While it replaces the popular MPV, unique as the first minivan to hit the U.S. market with all-wheel-drive capabilities, the latest version of this seven-passenger minivan shares only the name with its predecessor. The 2000 model, which has the lightest curb weight in its class, is available as a front-wheel-drive only and is a clean sheet design with a host of new features as well as improved functionality and performance.
A leading edge without flair
From the outside, the new MPV is not exactly eye-catching, but, in all fairness, minivan styling rarely turns heads. And, yet, the exterior sheet metal of the new model does seem to represent Mazda’s ambition to move beyond traditional minivan styling. There are chrome accents and a distinctive front grille that appears to be literally leading the way for the establishment of a new brand identity for Mazda. The low-profile front end is accented by an air dam intended to add sporty flair with lines that draw to the liftback rear.
The MPV sports an all-new, all-aluminum 2.5-liter DOHC V-6 producing 170 hp at 4250 rpm and 165 lb-ft of torque at 4250 rpm. Designed with variable air intake, the motor is designed to distribute power evenly throughout the range, which in turn produces smoother shifting under acceleration as well as increased safety under passing and quick-response situations.